A hunting season for Sandhill Cranes raised some debate Monday night at the annual Spring Fish and Wildlife Informational meeting in Portage.
While not many questions or concerns were brought forward at the meeting, the crane topic might have large implications for the county.
The proposal was being asked by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’s Migratory Study Committee and would require legislation from Wisconsin lawmakers to actually take effect.
It was just one of 91 questions that were asked at the annual meeting by the Conservation Congress and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in a purely advisory setting that invited all members of the public.
Many of the dozens of participants at Wayne E. Bartels Middle School who attended the meeting felt that hunting Sandhill Cranes in Wisconsin is a good idea.
“The numbers have really boomed, at least in my area, and their population needs to be controlled,” Seth Pulsfus, a farmer in the Poynette area, said.
Mark Heinze, who lives near Portage, agreed. He said he needed to replant 10 acres of corn due to destruction caused by a large number of cranes last spring.
Many farmers have reported significant crop losses due to Sandhill Cranes, according to the pamphlet distributed by the DNR and Conservation Congress that supplied the advisory questionnaire.
Joy Eriksen, from the town of Lowville, is the crane count coordinator in Columbia County for the International Crane Foundation. She said that cranes have maintained a fairly steady population in Wisconsin during the last decade of about 15,000, including anywhere from 1,100 to 1,400 in Columbia County in the spring.
“This is going to be a very emotional battle between people who want to hunt and people on the Crane Foundation,” Eriksen said.
Doug Williams, a Columbia County delegate on the Conservation Congress, said that if a Sandhill Crane hunting season was created that it would not be the end of Sandhill Cranes or would put an end to crop damage for local farmers.
“It’s going to be regulated like you can’t believe,” Williams said. “As it should be. You don’t want the population to go down to five, but you can’t have it get to 5 million, either.”
Paper ballots on the Sandhill Crane hunting issue were cast throughout the meeting. They will be tabulated across the state to help advise the DNR and Conservation Congress to make hunting and fishing more enjoyable and sustainable.
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